An encore for the weakest performer

by Gea Wijers While the European Union is under scrutiny because of the euro-crisis, at the other side of the planet countries are getting ready to intensify their regional cooperation. Next to ASEAN, Cambodia is now involved in the Great Mekong Subregion (GMS) program. As in the case of our European crisis, the resulting greater connectivity here can also be said to have mixed results. Let’s evaluate some opportunities and challenges of cooperation for a developing country. The GMS cooperation is characterized as based on the increase of connectivity, competitiveness and community. Please note, not necessarily on the cooperation  or …

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Cambodia and Thailand fight over ancient temple

In recent days the conflict between Cambodia and Thailand over the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple has escalated. As a result of clashes over the weekend at least five people have been killed and thousands have fled the region, BBC reports. Cambodia researcher Gea Wijers explained what is at stake in this conflict in a post she wrote earlier for this weblog, which we reproduce here. By Gea Wijers Cambodia must be the only country on this planet to proudly portray a ruin on its national flag. The stylized image of mythical Angkor Watt (a Cambodian temple complex) in its hay-day …

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62 virgins to the rescue?

In this final post in the context of Peace Week 2010 and the International Day of Peace, Gea Wijers shows how Cambodia mobilizes a curious ‘invented tradition’ in a long-running conflict with Thailand around an ancient temple. Cambodia must be the only country on this planet to proudly portray a ruin on its national flag. The stylized image of mythical Angkor Watt  (a Cambodian temple complex) in its hay-day says all that needs to be said about the Cambodian government. Its tendency to opportunistically cling on to a romantic national past that may never have existed. Its tendency to defend …

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The Khmer Tribunal: justice lost in translation?

By Gea Wijers Last week, on July 26, the trial chamber for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) found Kaing Guek Eav (68), alias Duch, the former head of the Tuol Sleng prison under the Pol Pot regime guilty of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva conventions. He was sentenced to 35 years of imprisonment. As the prison records show, Duch may be held responsible for the deaths by torture, killing and malnutrition, of at least 15,000 people. How can it be that a person with this incredible death record gets away with “only” …

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